Park Amenities

A Brief History of Western Gateway Park

Boise Cascade, developers of the Lake Wildwood community, in exchange for certain concessions from Nevada County, deeded to the County 80 acres of land located in Penn Valley. The land was formerly part of the Dykeman Ranch, a ranch which flourished during the gold rush days.

The agreement between Boise Cascade and Nevada County stipulated that the land must be developed for recreational purposes only. In addition to the land, Boise Cascade placed $175,000 in a trust fund which had to be encumbered within a five year period or be returned to Boise Cascade. view of center circle

After a series of meetings between Nevada County and Penn Valley failed to produce agreement as to who would develop the recreational project, interest waned. The sticking point was the local population wanted the County to take responsibility for the facility and the County wanted the citizens to form a recreation district and run the facility themselves. Early in 1974, leaders from local groups, clubs and associations met to try to resolve the impasse. After much time, discussion and hard work, the citizen group was able to move the project forward.

A District was formed encompassing 123 square miles. Its boundaries are roughly from the South Fork of the Yuba River on the north, Newtown and the Sunset District on the east, to a line near Clear Creek School on the south to the Yuba-Nevada County line on the west. The original 80 acres now leased for $1 a year from Nevada County plus 7 more adjacent acres bordering Highway 20 recently gifted to the District's citizens is known as Western Gateway Park and constitutes the only acreage currently under management for public recreation by an elected 5-member District Board of Directors.

Initially, District Directors struggled to convince citizens that a tax was necessary to maintain the Park. In later years, after refurbishing the Buttermaker's Cottage for meetings, the building of ball fields, picnic areas, irrigation systems, a bridge and other welcome amenities using recreational bond funds authorized by State voters, the people of the District voted to assess themselves a small parcel tax and it continues today to help keep the Park maintained as a venue enjoyed by people from near and far, young and old alike.

The Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce also has an excellent description of the History of Buttermaker's Cottage and how the Park got its name.